Khaya anthotheca

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East African mahogany
Khaya anthotheca.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Meliaceae
Genus: Khaya
Species: K. anthotheca
Binomial name
Khaya anthotheca
(Welw.) C.DC.
  • Khaya nyasica Stapf ex Baker f. (1911)[1]

The East African mahogany (Khaya anthotheca) is a large tree species in the Meliaceae family. They may grow between 30 to 60 metres (98 to 197 ft) tall and have greyish-brown bark. On the mature trees, white scented flowers bud at the ends of their branches. The name anthotheca was taken from the Greek word anthos, meaning flower, while theca refers to a capsule. It is known by a number of other common names, including Nyasaland, Red or White mahogany. Oos-Afrikaanse mahonie is the Afrikaans name and Acaujo is its name in French.


It is widespread, occurring from Guinea Bissau east to Uganda and Tanzania, and south to Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It is fairly widely grown in plantations within its natural area of distribution, but also in South Africa, tropical Asia and tropical America. It is easily confused with other Khaya species like K. grandifoliola, K. senegalensis or K. ivorensis in the north of its natural range.


The East African mahogany grows in medium to low altitude areas in evergreen forests. They require damp lands in order to grow. The Big Tree in Chirinda Forest is the tallest native tree in Zimbabwe.

Common uses[edit]

It is used for furniture, flooring, paneling and boat building. It is a very suitable tree for these projects because the bark weathers well, is resistant to borers and termites, besides fungal decay, and is tough but saws well. The bark has a bitter taste which is often used as a medicine for common colds. The oil from the seeds can also be rubbed into a person's scalp to rid of insects and lice. Along with other species of Khaya it is also used as a tonewood for acoustic and electric guitar manufacturing as a substitute for American mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) which is restricted.[2]


It is often cut down and destroyed in East and West Africa. Planting new trees in these areas to make up for what was destroyed is very rare. Genetic erosion is thought to have occurred as well. Because of this, the species is listed as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List. Some of its populations have been offered protection, and some countries placed bans on its export.


  1. ^ Maroyi, A. (2008). "Khaya anthotheca (Welw.) C.DC.". Prota 7 (1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  2. ^
  • Hawthorne, W. 1998. Khaya anthotheca. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 22 August 2007.
  • Alec Naidoo Pretoria. National Botanical Garden. September 2007. [1] Downloaded October 17 2012.
  • Forestry Department. [2] Downloaded October 18 2012.
  • Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative. [3] Downloaded October 20 2012.

External links[edit]